Friday, July 3, 2015

Sprint Finish

We're three quarters of the way through the recordings for series 3 of Modern Life Is Goodish. Two more shows to go.

Doing two shows in a night sure as hell makes it feel like it's whizzing by. We've turned out six hours of fresh stand-up in the last three months. Blimey. Now there's a sprint finish to get the final two sorted for the end of July.

I really enjoyed the last two shows. Especially the final week of preparation. That's because that final week mostly happens on stage and that's the fun bit. Doing a dry run on stage one night, re-writing it the next day and then doing it again and so on and so on is perhaps the most enjoyable part of this job.

You find out infinitely more about how to handle material by running it with real audiences than you ever could do by staring at it on the page or by any number of meetings etc. My way of not-staring-at-it-on-the-page is to, um... not put it on the page in the first place. I find scripting stuff in advance takes something away from the material. For me, it's almost always best to take an idea on stage, rather than some words. The words that fall out as you try and explain things to people are often better than whatever you would have written because you're not imagining an audience - you're there with them and can sense how much they've taken in, whether the first part of an idea has settled in the room or not etc. Writing stuff out in advance turns it into a test of memory rather than an exercise in communication. I want people to attend a show, not a rehearsal. I'm sure that watching a rough-around-the-edges show is better than watching a polished rehearsal.

Writing it down means you create something that feels like the "correct" version. Which is a very rigid way of dealing with something that hasn't yet been tested. I figure that if my focus is on saying it the right way that involves closing my mind to other possibilities that feel better in the moment.

Lawks, I'm navel gazing today. Sorry.
A few related bits and pieces.
1: We recorded two episodes of the show last Sunday. That's Sunday the 28th of June. These were our fifth and sixth shows of the run, although that's not necessarily the order in which they'll be shown. We start the recordings around 6.30pm, but the audience normally starts filing in at around 6 which means I have to have the final version of the powerpoint loaded on the laptop before then. I only mention this because last Sunday something happened at 5.24pm that changed the endings to one of the stories I was telling. So I was screen grabbing something and adding a couple of new slides to the presentation about five minutes before we opened the doors to the audience. This is why I love making the show in this way. It's home made. I make the powerpoints myself. There's no "sorry the graphics department have gone home" to deal with. And because we never lock in on a definitive it-must-be-like-this version of the show, we can make changes five minutes before the recording starts. It's much more exciting making TV like that. 

You'll notice I haven't said what it was that happened. That's because I don't want to post any spoilers for the series. I guarantee that when it's on the telly there'll be some people thinking, "I bet that didn't really happen on the day of the show" in part because people expect telly - not live telly, at any rate - to be planned out in advance and inflexible.  But it did. It really did.

2: As the series is nearing the end of production, that means I'm also nearing the end of this run of Screen Guild gigs - there's one more, next Friday at the Hackney Picture House - and three more dry runs for the series too. All of which are at Norden Farm, Maidenhead towards the end of the month.

3: I've been so busy on the series, I failed to notice that yesterday was publication day for the Too Much Information paperback. But it was.